With only a month left of winter, all eyes have turned to the upcoming northern Australian wet season with the weather bureau forecasting early storms.

Key points:

  • The Negative Indian Ocean Dipole is indicating a higher-than-average chance of early wet season storms in northern Australia
  • Last year’s La Niña weather pattern did not come to fruition for large parts of Queensland
  • Dr Chelsea Jarvis from the University of Southern Queensland is warning farmers it still may not rain

According to the northern rainfall onset, most of Queensland and the Northern Territory have a greater than 70 per cent chance of early rainfall in September and October.

Spring is not traditionally the wettest time of the year in the north, which normally has sporadic storms and increased humidity.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Greg Browning said there was a high chance of those sporadic storms, according to a climate driver called the Negative Indian Ocean Dipole.

“Basically, it means favourable conditions for above-average cloudiness and rainfall over much of Australia,” Mr Browning said.

“Historically, when we are in a negative IOD climate state, Queensland and most of the eastern two thirds of northern Australia does see above-average rain.”

Close up of waterfall splashing over red rocks

Western Australia saw a bumper wet season last year, while large parts of Queensland missed out.(

ABC Kimberley: Rebecca Nadge


A chance of missing out

Last year, the bureau forecast higher-than-average rainfall, with the formation of a La Niña weather pattern.

While it delivered for Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory, a large part of Queensland missed out on the falls.

Mr Browning said last year’s wet season played out in an unusual way and factors other than the La Niña were the main influence.

He said this year was dominated by a completely different weather pattern.

“It’s unlikely we’re going to see similar patterns, since we’re driven by a different part of the globe,” he said.

Managing expectations

Chelsea Jarvis, from the University of Southern Queensland, has been travelling the state helping farmers better understand the forecast.

A shot of parched, brown land.

Chelsea Jarvis from the University of Southern Queensland says there is still a chance some areas will miss out on rain.(

ABC Rural: Melanie Groves


Dr Jarvis said it was important to note the median rainfall was not very high for some areas involved in the northern rainfall outlook.

“For example, September to November, the median for Burketown is 34 millimetres.

“But even forecasts that have a 70 per cent chance of it happening are still a 30 per cent chance of it not happening.”

All eyes on north as forecasters predict early start to wet season
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